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Our Schools & Faculty

Middle School Faculty

Bryant Fritz

Middle School Coordinator & Science Instructor



Mr. Bryant Fritz graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.S. in biological sciences and earned his M.S. in K-12 Science Education through Washington University. While at EIU, he worked with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help monitor the health of lakes and fish populations. In addition, he was a contributor to the Chicago Tribune's effort to control the Asian Carp's migration to the great Lakes. Mr. Fritz is also a certified Project Lead the Way instructor as well as a member of the National Science Teachers Association.

While at Next Generation he has continued to pursue innovation and advancement in the field of science education. In partnership with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Mr. Fritz has incorporated some of the important applications of nanotechnology into the classroom through student-lead research. He was the 2014 recipient of the ExxonMobil Illinois Science Teacher of the Year award. Shortly after, he was appointed the title of Engineering Specialist by the Illinois State Board of Education as part of a curriculum design team to benefit high school science teachers and students in Illinois. In the summer of 2016, he worked as a writer for UIUC's electrical engineering department to develop curriculum aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. This project was funded through a grant by John Deere and Caterpillar. Mr. Fritz joined the NGS faculty in 2010.

Jennifer Knapp

Mathematics Instructor


Ms. Knapp received her Master of Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her Bachelor of Sciences in education, with endorsements in middle school mathematics and science, from Eastern Illinois University. Prior to NGS, Ms. Knapp taught sixth grade mathematics at Urbana Middle School for seven years. In addition to teaching, she worked with her colleagues as a Team Facilitator and served on the textbook adoption, math curriculum and district math committees. Ms. Knapp especially enjoyed grant project work that provided support for incorporating technology into the math and science curricula. She also helped to develop a Summer Achievement Academy, with a curriculum designed to encourage student achievement by making math relevant to their interests and experiences. In 2006, Ms. Knapp traveled to Australia as a Delegation Leader for People-to-People Student Ambassadors. She joined other teachers and 42 fifth and sixth grade students for two weeks of travel and cultural exchange. She joined the NGS faculty in 2007.

Erin Smith

Mathematics Instructor


Erin Smith joins Ms. Knapp in the Middle School Mathematics Department. A Dean’s List Scholar, she graduated from Ball State University with a degree in Secondary Education Mathematics and is pursuing her Masters in Educational Administration from Eastern Illinois University. She has taught Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and II, Pre-Calculus and AP Calculus. In addition to managing a successful private tutoring company, authoring a textbook for use in her course at Parkland College, and being a mom to two busy daughters, she is a an avid marathon runner. She joined NGS in 2014.

Sarah Lietz

English and Language Arts Instructor (7th & 8th Grade)


Mrs. Sarah Lietz came to NGS with an extensive education in English Language Arts education and with six years of middle school teaching experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Communication and Public Relations from Bradley University, a Secondary English Teaching Certificate from Northern Illinois University, and a Master of Arts in English Studies from Illinois State University. Sarah spent six years as the seventh and eighth grade English and Language Arts instructor at Thomosboro Grade School. She fell in love with the progressive and student-centered atmosphere at NGS and joined our faculty in 2014.

Nathan Back

Math, English & Language Arts Instructor (6th Grade)


A Mahomet, IL native, Mr. Nathan Back graduated Summa Cum Laude from Eastern Illinois University with a B.S. in Education. After graduation, Mr. Back taught fifth and sixth grade in Arcola and Mattoon, IL, before returning to the Champaign area. Mr. Back's passion for teaching along with his passion for connecting with each of his students is evident the moment you step into his classroom. He truly understands the emotional needs of students at this age and is able to hold them to a high standard of excellence while providing the guidance and stability they seek. Nathan joined the NGS faculty in 2011.

Matthew Stewart

History Instructor

Dr. Matthew Stewart grew up in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area in California. After graduating from Claremont McKenna College, he received his secondary education certification in social science from California State University, Fullerton, and taught high school for two years in Pomona. He then moved to the Midwest to pursue a Ph.D. in history at Washington University in St. Louis, working as an adjunct professor at Lindenwood University while completing his dissertation titled "The Burden of Western History: Kansas, Collective Memory, and the Reunification of the American Empire, 1854-1913." Dr. Stewart most recently taught college prep and AP United States history at Stratford Academy in Macon, GA, and is excited about returning to the Midwest. In his spare time, he enjoys a variety of recreational sports like soccer, tennis, softball, and kickball. He also enjoys singing, playing the guitar, trivia, and traveling with his wife, Sarah.

Claudine Freard-Rose

French Language Instructor


Mme. Claudine Freard-Rose is a founding member of the NGS faculty. She has designed her curriculum to enable students to become proficient in reading, writing, listening and speaking French. For Mme. Freard-Rose, having her students develop cultural awareness is an important component of language learning. Her students are given frequent opportunities to research and explore aspects of French culture and history, in addition to learning about film, art and food.

Mme. Freard-Rose is a native of France and has taught in French schools, in addition to teaching in several different schools in the U.S. She received her Bachelor and Master degrees in Arts et Lettres (Languages and Literature) from the University of Nancy II. Prior to joining the NGS faculty, she taught French at Campus Middle School for Girls for nine years. She also taught Level I and Level IV French at University High School in Urbana. Mme. Freard-Rose has also worked as a translator and tutor. She is an accomplished chef and has taught cooking classes for both adults and children.

Jayna Morgan

Spanish Language Instructor


Señora Jayna Morgan earned her minor in Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with extensive coursework in the College of Education Graduate School. She has an excitement and passion for sharing the Spanish language with students. She has both worked and volunteered as a Spanish teacher in Early Education, Montessori and dual language classrooms. Jayna's gregarious nature and fun attitude make Spanish time a favorite amongst the students. She joined the NGS team in 2011 and co-teaches Spanish classes to grades K-8.

Ana Bedini-Jacobini

Spanish Language Instructor

Mrs. Ana Bedini-Jacobini is a native of Peru and began her working career in pediatric dentistry. Though she loved her profession, she always felt a desire to work with children as a teacher. After moving to the United States she worked for two years as the K-5 Spanish teacher at the World Language Academy in Rockford, IL. Also fluent in Italian, she has most recently served as the leader of an after school club teaching the language and culture of Italy to students at Southside Elementary. Ana joined NGS in the fall of 2016 and co-teaches Spanish classes to grades K-8.

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